Taking Art Through a Walk in Baghdad

Baghdad, Iraq, 28 November 2018 - Blindfold walks, questions, and music were all part of the activities on offer during the recent "Baghdad Walk" which took pedestrians on a delightful, art-sampling stroll through the streets of the Iraqi capital.

One can only smile and surrender to the laughter during the six-hour walk while appreciating the artwork on display by the country's young artists and exchanging views with fellow participants.

The unorthodox, two-day gallery on 16-17 November is how a group of young Iraqi artists decided to exhibit their art and deliver a message of collective bonding and connection – elements that contribute to stability for Iraq as the country begins to enjoy the benefits of peace after years of conflict. The event was conceived and refined at an old house in Baghdad's Karrada-Dakhil district where the arts group "Tarkib" is based. It's where Zaid, Muhaned, Shams, Atif and other young talented artists planned their artistic contributions to twelve open locations in Baghdad for the general public to enjoy and cherish.

Atif Al-Jaffal, a second-year student at the Institute of Fine Art, explained the thought behind his wall art. He said “I had this idea of drawing a big circle of life on the wall, adding shapes connecting each other; each shape represents a figure with two colours inside and facing another shape with the same yet inverted colors with a different figure. Both figures were connected in some way. I see the country as one big family. In order to lead a normal life, we should be able to accept each other.”

With an optimistic smile and a thoughtful gaze, he concludes, “If we do not accept each other, how can we change ourselves?”

Another second-year university student of arts, Shams Aqeel, or "Toshee" as known to her family and friends, said: “I was part of the circle which has shown acceptance to each other. Each one of us has a different style of living.”

One inventive way to explore the artwork was by pairing each two visitors to experience the event with one blindfolded and guided from one site to the next by the other whose ears are plugged by cotton balls. The idea is to forge a bond of trust between the two.

My blindfolded partner in the event, 30-year-old pharmacist Mena Sabah, was thrilled by the out-of-the-box activities. She reflected: “I had the sense of bonding when you guided me on the street of Abu Nawas, I couldn’t see anything, yet was confident.”

Mena, who has participated for the first time with Tarkib, has continued to visit the group twice a week to take drawing lessons.

The best way to conclude the day was through music; with Muqdad playing the violin, while his colleague strums his guitar as a delighted and enthusiastic little boy sat in between. Some participants were dancing, others cheering and clapping.

The crowd gathered to take photos and videos, before heading back to Tarkib for a chat over a cup of tea as they look forward to a new day with hope and anticipation.

The two-day walk was supported by the German GOETHE Institute.

Text by Sanaa Kareem
UNAMI Public Information Office

Photo credits:
UNAMI PIO/Sana Kareem
Tarkib Baghdad

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  • Agency: UNAMI

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